Sports

An epic showdown in London and even a trip to the States now on the horizon for local superstar

Thursday, 2 March 2017

An epic showdown in London and even a trip to the States now on the horizon for local superstar thumbnailJames Gallagher shares a kiss with his mum, Doreen, after his victory at Bellator 173.

LOCAL MMA sensation, James Gallagher, paid tribute to his mother, Doreen, on her birthday only moments after easily disposing of his most recent victim, Kirill Medvedovsky, at Bellator 173 in the SSE Arena, Belfast, on Friday night.

Cheered on by a raucous Strabane supporter group, the 'Strabanimal', extended his winning streak to 6-0 after submitting his Israeli opponent with his patented rear-choke after only two minutes of what was supposed to be his toughest fight yet. Medvedovsky had previously held a 7-3 record but the local man made light work of him on an unforgettable night of mixed martial arts.

A jubilant Gallagher immediately scaled the cage to celebrate in front of his supporters, many who had travelled from the town to cheer on their local hero, before grabbing a microphone and dedicating the victory to his onlooking mother.

The 20-year-old can now look forward to an epic night performing in front of a sell-out SSE Arena, Wembley, for Bellator 179 in May where he will likely come up against the hugely-talented AJ McKee, who he also sent a message to.

"I'd like to say a big thank you to my mother whose birthday it is on Sunday. She's with me every step of the way and I wouldn't be here without you," he said.

He continued: "AJ McKee, you're next - London, May 19! You're going to get done in one!"

Speaking back-stage after the victory, the 20-year-old said he felt "humbled" by the support of his 'Strabanimals'.

"I feel humbled after that. I was just sitting there looking around and all of this is for me. I can't put it into words how that feels but I'm going to be the greatest ever.

"That's my mindset. I'm going back to the gym and putting in work and having fun in the gym and bringing my game to that next level. I feel like I'm going to be the greatest ever and that's it."

Gallagher is confident of extending his streak to seven wins in his next fight which is expected to pit the youngster with promising prospect 21-year-old, AJ McKee, at Bellator 179 in London on May 19. The Californian is also unbeaten, accruing a 7-0 record.

But arguably more exciting is a potential bout in the United States in the near future, something which Bellator chief executive, Scott Coker, failed to rule out.

"There was a lot of pressure on James tonight but he was really composed, it didn't seem to bother him," he said post-event.

"There isn't a contract signed yet but a fight with AJ McKee could happen - they're two young guys. I haven't spoken to him yet but maybe we could invite him to London and we'll keep testing him."

Coker added: "It's a fight that we could promote in California, Dublin, Belfast or London. James' popularity is growing and they could fight all over the world."

Asked if he had any plans to push Gallagher in the United States, Coker said: "That was the game plan originally. McKee has already fought all over, James could fight all over."

Asked if he could envision a fight in the States in the near future, Gallagher exclusively told the Strabane Weekly News: "100 per cent. Give me any show going. I can go every two months, I'm young, I'm only 20 years old, I can go all day."

Not quite satisfied with the win on Friday night, Gallagher added: "I should have finished him quicker!

"I let the shots flow, I could see him crumbling and then I knew he was in my world and it was only a matter of time."

He added: "They say it looked easy but I've put in hard, hard work every day. It's not easy. It's only going to get better."

Gallagher spent the weekend at his home on Carlton Drive, Strabane, but now it's back to hard work in preparation for a career-defining seventh professional bout.

"It's been back -to-back weeks of hard training and it's going to be the same for London. I'm going to go out there and steal that show. There's not too many Strabane men that can steal a world class show like that but I'm the man to do it.

"I hope to be in London on May 19, nothing is confirmed yet but that's what I'm aiming for."

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